Child protection costs. A new study shows that a lot of big councils in England could soon run out of money because they’ve spent too much on child protection since the COVID-19 pandemic start. These are councils in charge of counties and certain areas. They’re finding it really hard to deal with high prices, more kids being taken into care, and huge bills for children’s homes, according to a group call the County Councils Network (CCN).
People Want the Chancellor to Give More Money to Councils
People are asking the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to give extra money to these councils in this month’s autumn statement. They’re worry about whether local services will have enough money to keep running, even though councils have had to cut their budgets a lot in recent years.
Child protection costs. The CCN is saying that children’s services are in big trouble, and they need money right away. If they don’t get help soon, councils might have to make big cuts to other important things and use up their savings to do their most important child protection work.
Some Councils Are Almost Out of Money
Some councils, like Hampshire, Somerset, and West Berkshire, have said that they might not be able to balance their budgets over the next 18 months. This could make them declare a kind of financial emergency call a “section 114 notice,” which is sort of like going bankrupt.
In the past, councils in places like Croydon, Thurrock, and Birmingham got into financial trouble because they made risky business deals and didn’t manage their money well. But the CCN says that even councils that are usually good with money are now at risk of running out.
Other Councils Are Also Having Money Problems
Smaller councils in different areas are also worry that they might run out of money because more people are becoming homeless. Metropolitan boroughs, which are councils in bigger cities, are struggling with their money too.
Altogether, all the councils in the CCN are expected to have a total of £640 million more in expenses than they planned for this year. They’re spending the most on children’s services, then on looking after older people, and getting kids to school safely.
What’s Making Things So Hard
The CCN says that a bunch of things are making it tough for councils. More families have need help with their kids because of the pandemic. The cost of taking care of these kids has gone up because prices for everything have gone up. And the companies that take care of these kids are charging a lot of money, sometimes over £250,000 a week for really special care.
Since the pandemic started, there over 20,000 extra times when people ask for help with child protection in county areas. This puts more pressure on children’s services, and more than 1,000 extra kids have had to go into local government care because of it.